Rabbi Yossi Nemes, the Brooklyn-born director of the Chabad Center in Metairie, New Orleans, was interviewed by Rosalind Hinton on July 13, 2007. R’ Nemes moved to New Orleans in 1990, after completing advanced study and marrying his wife Chanie, with whom he has six daughters and a son. He relates his experiences of staying in New Orleans through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, hiding in the second floor of his two-story brick house with twelve friends and relatives after the ground floor became flooded. They were able to escape only after the water was pumped out, and then drove to Memphis, where they were supported by the Jewish community. Despite these losses and trials, he shows incredible optimism and generosity, speaks lovingly of his wife, and characterizes the New Orleans Jewish community affectionately. Highlights of the interview include a story about his impromptu kosher barbeque on the highway, while hundreds of people wait in traffic to buy gas; how he rescued his elderly neighbors; and his thoughts on Hasidic teachings and faith.
This oral history was conducted by Rosalind Hinton for a joint project by the Jewish Women's Archive partnered with the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) to capture the voices and experiences of members of the Jewish communities of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast communities during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. For more information, see katrina.jwa.org/about#about-oral-history